RUSH Guitarist Facing Countersuits In Scuffle With Deputies

The Associated Press has issued the following report:

Two deputies who arrested a founder of the Canadian rock trio RUSH have sued, claiming the guitarist attacked them as they tried to force his son to leave a hotel during a New Year's Eve party.

Lawyers representing the Ritz-Carlton in Naples and deputies involved in the arrest filed court papers arguing they acted properly when they arrested Justin Zivojinovich, who allegedly had become disorderly and was asked to leave the party to ring in 2004.

The filings respond to a federal lawsuit filed in June by Alex Zivojinovich, known onstage as Alex Lifeson. Their lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for battery, unlawful arrest and false imprisonment against the hotel and its security director, Frank Barner. It also accuses Collier County sheriff's deputies Christopher Knott, Scott Russell and Amy Stanford.

Justin Zivojinovich had began singing on a stage set up for the house band. Hotel representatives told him to stop and, according to his lawsuit, he did.

But hotel officials called authorities, and the three deputies arrived to remove him from the property. When his father intervened, the guitarist shoved Stanford down a stairwell and spit blood in Knott's face, according to their countersuits, which don't specify monetary damages.

Justin Zivojinovich was charged with resisting arrest with violence. His father also was charged with two felonies. In April 2005, the guitarist and his son pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and received a year of probation.

In their suit, the Zivojinoviches say the father suffered a broken nose during the scuffle, while the son was subdued and hit with a Taser stun gun before his arrest. His father also suffered several Taser hits.

Lawyers for the hotel asked U.S. District Judge John Steele to dismiss the initial lawsuit. Attorney Judith Mercier argued the Ritz and its security chief can't be held legally responsible for the deputies' actions.

The family's attorneys have already responded to the countersuits, arguing the two deputies knew of the possibility of injury when they tried to remove Justin Zivojinovich.

Attorney Paul Weekley also argued the two deputies were the aggressors, and the guitarist acted only "in good faith and in self-defense."


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